West-Saxon eorðan recension

A critical edition of the probable recension archetype

Based on T1 with collations from B1, Ca, N, O[1], To.

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    Nu sculon[2] herigean      heofonrices ƿeard,

    meotodes meahte,      ond his modgeþanc,

    ƿeorc ƿuldorfæder      sƿa[3] he ƿundra gehƿæs,

    ece drihten,      or onstealde!

5     He ærest sceop      eorðan bearnum

    heofon to hrofe,      halig scyppend;

    þa[4] middangeard,      moncynnes ƿeard,

    ece drihten,      æfter teode

    firum foldan,      frea ælmihtig.

Apparatus (Substantive variants)

1a Nu] Ne N Nu ƿe B1 To O (Post-Correction) Ca. 1a sculon herigean] herigan sculon B1. 3a ƿeorc] ƿeoroda N ƿero O (Pre-Correction) ƿera O (Post-Correction) Ca. 3a ƿuldorfæder] ƿuldorgodes B1. 3b ƿundra] ƿuldres Ca. 3b gehƿæs] geƿhƿæs N fela B1. 4b or] ord B1 Ca O (Post-Correction) ær To. 4b onstealde] astealde B1 To. 5a ærest] æres Ca. 5a sceop] gesceop O Ca. 5b eorðan] eorþum N. 5b bearnum] bearnunum O (Pre-Correction). 6b scyppend] drihten To. 7a þa] þe B1. 8b teode] teodde O (Pre-Correction) eode N. 9a firum] finum N. 9a foldan] folda O (Pre-Correction).


[1]The scribe of O has altered his text considerably by correction (see above, Chapter 4: Manuscripts (O) and Chapter 7: Editorial introduction, West-Saxon eorðan recension). Pre- and post-correction forms are collated separately (where applicable) except in the All readings (parallel) apparatus.

[2]sculon] sculon is either first person plural with an unexpressed subject (i.e. [ƿue/ƿe] sculon), or third person plural with ƿeorc ƿuldorfæder, 3a, as subject. The former interpretation is supported by the form in Bede’s paraphrase, debemus; but the latter interpretation is suggested by a lack of convincing syntactic parallels in Old English (see especially Mitchell 1985b), and, perhaps, similar syntax in the Benedicite (Stanley 2002, 3). See above, §§ 5.18-5.20 and 2.43. sculon (and variant spellings) appears without a pronominal subject in all witnesses to the Northumbrian aelda recension (i.e. P and M) and the earliest witnesses to the West-Saxon eorðan recension (N, O [Pre-Correction], and T1). All other recensions and later manuscripts of the West-Saxon eorðan recension have a variant of ƿue/ƿe as subject.

[3]sƿa] Howlett suggests that sƿa may be intended as an adverb (“thus”) rather than a causal conjunction (“as, because”). For a discussion of the evidence, see above, § C.9. The punctuation here assumes sƿa is a conjunction.

[4]þa] þa can be construed as either a causal conjunction (“when”) or an adverb (“then”). While the reading has considerable effect on our understanding of the poem’s structure and theology (see above, § C.9, and esp. Blockley 1998, 20-26), neither reading can be ruled out conclusively. The punctuation in this edition follows that of most modern editions in treating þa as an adverb.